The Weighty Days of April

On April 12th

1865

The Army of Northern Virginia is disbanded near Appomattox Court House, Virginia, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee signed a document of surrender to Union General Ulysses Grant on April 9th. The parole of the Confederate Army’s officers and men inspires a series of surrenders, signaling the end of the Civil War.¹

1917 

The United States begins to recruit and train troops to fight on the battlefields of Europe, having declared war on Germany on April 6th. In just four years (1914-1918) World War I will take 37.5 million lives, decimate the powers of Europe, and erase an entire generation.

1945

Sitting President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) is posing for portraitist Elizabeth Shoumatoff at “The Little White House” in Warm Springs, Georgia when he complains of ‘a massive headache’ and slumps in his chair. F.D.R. suffers a major cerebral hemorrhage and dies later that afternoon at the age of 63.

On April 14th

1865

Sitting President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) attends the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater. Around 10:30 John Wilkes Booth enters the President’s box and shoots Lincoln at point-blank range. The mortally-wounded President is carried across the street to Petersen House, where he dies the following morning.

1912

R.M.S. “Titanic” is steaming across the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage to New York when the ship collides with a massive iceberg, rupturing the steel plates of her hull. The accident occurs at 11:40 p.m.; by 2:20 the next morning “Titanic” has sunk. She takes 1,500 passengers and crew with her to the bottom of the Atlantic.

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¹   “Battle of Appomattox Court House,” Wikipedia.org,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Battle_of_Appomattox_Court_House#Surrender (accessed April 12, 2017).

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